Social & Political
Published Solely for Private Circulation at Three Guineas
Printed by The Queenhithe Printing & Publishing Co Ltd,, London
Undated but probably late 1907
An examination of this book immediately identifies the market. It is aimed at the kind of person who wants to have an impressive looking book on display, and who can boast that they are in it alongside with Earl This & Marquess That. Typically there is a two page sycophantic biography, in most cases with a photographic portrait. The biographies are arranged in social status order which gets the titled gentlemen (there are no ladies) to the front and while there is a contents list (in the same order) the pages are not numbered & there is no alphabetical index - making is hard to find anyone apart from the Lords towards the front. Whatever else the book is good for, the organisation makes it useless as a practical contemporary work of reference. The contents list given here has been produced by scanning the original contents list, numbering the entries, and then sorting into alphabetical order - with the nobility whose title is different to the family name first.
There is another interesting feature. While the binding looks posh, it is not very robust because each entry has been printed on a separate sheet, with the portrait attached if there was one. As a result individual pages can easily drop out and I would not recommend photocopying from the volume for fear of damaging it. This method of binding raises an interesting possibility. All that was needed to add a new person to the book would be to print an extra page, add an extra line to the contents page and reprint and you could produce a new individual version of the book including a biography of the latest "subscriber". It may therefore be worth checking whether all surviving copies are identical.
An online search shows that there are four copies at HALS, and copies at the Hertford, St Albans & Watford public libraries. There are also copies in the British Library, the Bodleian Library and the Guildhall Library.
So who was Ernest Gaskell?
Apart from providing a name the book gives absolutely no information about the author, or where he was situated. However a check of COPAC shows the following publications - in virtually all cases the date given is approximate.
Clearly what we have is a significant publishing activity which (bearing in mind the uncertainty caused by undated books) suddenly started in about 1907 and continued until about 1910.
Three somewhat similar high cost low circulation books had earlier been published in Hertfordshire. These were Hertfordshire Men of Mark, by Truman Press, 1887, Hertfordshire County Homes published in 1892 from the Hertfordshire Standard offices (editor Truman Press), and Hertfordshire Leaders by Charles A Manning Press, 1894,
If we look at the publications by C A Manning Press we get the following (at least some of the dates are approximate):
Not only do many of these books have similar titles, but they were published between about 1890 and 1908, and there is evidence that work had just started on 2nd editions (Somerset, Suffolk and Yorkshire). In addition at least some of the books were printed by The Queenhithe Printing & Publishing Co Ltd,, London. It would therefore seem that in about 1907 there was a change of editor (and possibly ownership) of the business of producing these books, but with the same printer.
It appear that Ernest Gaskell was Carrie Amy Campion, who worked for Truman Press in Hertfordshire circa 1898 and as Mrs North, drowned in 1910, when living with Alan North (a.k.a. Truman Press. - See Truman PRESS, St Albans, Late 19th Century.)
You may be able to help
It would seem that virtually all the books mentioned on this page were printed in small numbers on a subscription basis and it could well be that there are books for other counties for which no copies exist in the copyright libraries. If you know of any such "missing" volumes please tell me, Any information about Ernest Gaskell would also be welcome, particularly if it links him to the Press family.
Short Sample Entry
Montague Whittingham Price, Esq., D. L.
FEW gentlemen are better known in the County of Hertford than Mr. Montague Whittingham Price, of The Node, Codicote. Born in London in 1854, he is the fourth son of the late F. W. Price, Esq., Banker. He was educated privately.
Few pursuits in life are more interesting or elevating than horticulture, for what can be more lovely than Nature's finest and most beautiful work a flower? A garden beautified by clusters of rare and lovely blooms can be nothing but a perpetual delight to the lover of Nature, there must indeed be something seriously lacking in the character of a man who can pass through such a spot without feeling that it is good to be alive, and to be able to gaze upon God's handiwork.
To horticulture Mr. Price has always devoted a good deal of time. Though fond of sport, Mr. Price by no means loses sight of the stern realities of life, nor shirks his share in the work of the County. He is a Deputy-Lieutenant for the County of Hertford, whilst since the day of its foundation he has filled the chair at the meetings of the Knebworth Parish Council. He is also Chairman of the Codicote Schools; Churchwarden at Knebworth Parish Church; a Governor of the Hertfordshire Convalescent Homes.
A staunch Conservative, Chairman of the Knebworth Division of the Conservative and Liberal Unionist Association, he is a member of the Wellington Club, London. Mr. Price married in 1892 Miss Clementina Villiers, the daughter of Colonel Ernest Villiers, A.D.C.
Second hand copies of any books by Ernest Gaskell and Charles A Manning Press are very hard to find.
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